WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JANUARY 20, 2021
In this week's Intersect, read about:
March for Life Cancels Annual In-Person Washington Rally, Goes Virtual
“The annual March for Life -- traditionally held in the nation's capital -- will take place virtually this year due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and heightened pressure on law enforcement. ‘The protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as the many law enforcement personnel and others who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life,’ said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini in a statement Friday. ‘In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different.’” read more at Fox News
The march has been held annually in January since 1974, one year after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion across in the United States. Even blizzards in 1987 and 2016 did not force cancellation. We will definitely miss joining with hundreds of thousands in DC, like we’ve done in past years. For a reminder, watch our powerful time-lapse from last year’s march here. But just because the march doesn’t look the same this year doesn’t mean our voice for the preborn can’t be heard or that we stop fighting for the protection and sanctity of the preborn. In one of his first acts as president, Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits taxpayer funding to groups that promote or provide abortions overseas. On Friday, in one of his last executive orders, President Trump declared January 22 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. In stark contrast, Joe Biden is expected to quickly overturn Trump-administration rules on abortion. "We have a ton of work to do to undo the harm over the last four years, but knowing we have champions there who understand what needs to happen in the first 100 days is tremendously exciting," said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. Abortion will no doubt be an area of greater scrutiny for Christians to monitor and take action on in this new administration. And while a lot happens at the federal level, it’s important to watch what’s happening at the state level. In a state that has been on the frontlines fighting for abortion access in recent years, a bit of good news was reported this week. While a total of 45 abortion facilities closed or halted abortions nationwide in 2020, Missouri is now the only state without an active abortion facility. Operation Rescue noted that “Reproductive Health Services Planned Parenthood in St. Louis was the last abortion facility in Missouri”. Despite still remaining open, the report confirmed of “no abortion appointments” being made available at the facility “for months, and none are available anytime in the foreseeable future.”
Father, forgive us for the millions of lives lost through abortion. Break our hearts for what breaks Yours and lead us to pray and work to abolish abortion. Open our eyes to see how we are to pray and what we are to do. Awaken Your church to stand against this great evil in this nation and around the world.
Make plans to join the virtual March for Life on January 29th here. There are also a number of in-person local rallies still taking place across the nation in the next few weeks that you can join. Learn more here.
Big Plans: Team Biden Sets Out Ambitious Policy Package for First 10 Days in Office
“The president-elect takes office at noon on Wednesday, and he's already got a slew of actions he plans to take on the first days, and in the days that follow. Ron Klain, who will serve as Biden's White House chief of staff, wrote in a memo released Saturday that Biden will focus on ‘the COVID-19 crisis, the resulting economic crisis, the climate crisis, and a racial equity crisis.’ But he'll get to work immediately by taking some executive actions. On day one, Biden will rejoin the Paris climate agreement, extend a freeze on federal student loan payments, overturn Trump's ban on travel to the U.S. from several majority-Muslim countries and issue a ‘100-Day Masking Challenge’ that will impose new mandates requiring masks on federal property and for interstate transportation. ‘During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better,’ Klain wrote in the memo. ‘As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfillment of the promises he made.’” read more at Just the News
The use of the word “crisis” can evoke strong emotions. In a crisis, it is easy to panic, and it is also natural to desire a quick way out; a rescue. When a powerful government frames certain issues as crises, and then proposes a rescue by means of government action, many people view it as a positive thing. However, we must keep two things in mind: First, Proverbs 3:5 says to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” We are not to solely trust in our own or the governments’ solutions but seek God’s wisdom in every circumstance. To do this, we have to consistently and correctly read our Bible. Second, as stewards of this country that God has given us, we must ask if the proposed government solutions are within the boundaries given by the Constitution. Biden’s incoming Chief of Staff argues that his policy objectives are, stating, “The legal theory behind them is well-founded and represents a restoration of an appropriate, constitutional role for the president." To know whether he is correct, we must read the Constitution and understand how our government is structured. We have included an organization in the ACT section that will help you grow in both your Biblical and Constitutional knowledge. Be prepared to be criticized, however, for pointing out governmental actions that violate God’s authority and the law’s boundaries. Christians are often accused of standing in the way of “progress.” In a recent sermon on how believers should respond to Biden’s presidency, Pastor Robert Jeffress warned, “So when you've got an administration, a government, that is celebrating what God has condemned, and the Church condemning what they are celebrating, ladies and gentlemen, there's going to be friction.” He continued, “There's going to be pressure. There's going to be persecution.”
Lord, we pray that You would bring order to the government You established in our nation. We pray for the new President and those advising him (1 Timothy 2:2), that they would seek Your wisdom. We pray that your people would be strong in the You and the power of Your might. We are overcomers; but I pray we will stay watchful, prayerful, and engaged in what is happening in our government.
Wallbuilders is an organization that teaches about the role of faith in our nation’s history so that Christians can be empowered and equipped to apply a biblical worldview to current events and cultural challenges. Their latest podcast deals with one of Biden’s policy priorities: a national minimum wage. Does the Bible speak to the concept of minimum wage? What does history teach us about this issue? What demographic suffers the most when minimum wage is instituted? We encourage you to listen to this episode.
60% Rise in Christians Killed Worldwide in 2020: Open Doors Report
“2020 continued a trend of rising persecution around the world, with governments often using COVID-19 restrictions as tools of repression, Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors USA announced in its annual report. Open Doors' 2021 report revealed two important persecution trends in 2020. The number of Christians killed has increased by 60% this year, mostly because of Islamic violence against Nigerian Christians. Secondly, anti-Christian governments around the world use COVID-19 restrictions to persecute Christians. ‘This past year 2020 has been a year of uncertainty and fear. We’ve been all fighting a virus that we cannot see with the naked eye. Less known but equally as viral has been the discrimination, isolation, and violence against Christians by using COVID-19 as a leverage and as justification,’ Open Doors President and CEO David Curry told the conference. In Nigeria, over 2,200 Christians were murdered by radical Islamists. This number makes up slightly less than half of the 4,761 Christians killed for their faith worldwide, according to Open Doors statistics. Most of the Christians killed in 2020 gave up their lives to extremist groups, not governments, Curry said. ‘Extremists […] are emboldened by government weakened by COVID-19 restrictions, knowing that they can steal food and medical supplies from already embattled Christian communities around the world,’ he said.” read more at the Christian Post
According to the report, the top ten countries displaying the most persecution are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. Because of the current genocide against Christians in Nigeria, it replaced Sudan, which used to be in the top ten. For the report, persecution is measured in two main forms: pressure (either from the Christian’s family, community, or government), and outright violence. Aforda, a sister in Christ whose husband was killed by Boko Haram in 2014, was asked how we can pray for her and all the Christians in Nigeria. She responded, “I would like the Americans to pray for us, for God to deliver us from such cruel killings, then for God to strengthen our faith and heal our heart from the traumas that we have gone through.” Another Christian from Cameroon asked, “Pray for our enemies, Boko Haram. Pray the Lord will change the heart of our persecutors so they may know Him as their only Savior.” Such words are humbling and point back to what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45) This year, as we minister to our persecuted brothers and sisters with prayers and support, let’s also allow their example of faithfulness under pressure to encourage and teach us.
Brother Andrew, the founder of Open Doors, said, "Our prayers go where we cannot." Pray that God would comfort those who have lost loved ones for their faith in Jesus. (2 Corinthians 1) Pray for endurance, provision, and hope for those currently imprisoned. In addition, pray that governments will start to allow more freedom to preach the gospel, and that the eyes of persecutors will be opened, and that they will turn to Jesus. Commit to praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters this year.
To help guide your prayers and give a greater appreciation for what our fellow Christians are going through, we encourage you to download the 2021 World Watch List at Open Doors USA.
Religious Makeup of the 117th Congress is 88% Christian
“The 117th United States Congress is made up of 88% Christians, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. In a report called ‘Faith on the Hill,’ the Pew Research Center analyzed the religious affiliations of all 531 members of the 117th Congress and compared them to the religious demographics of the U.S. as a whole. Pew obtained the data from a questionnaire conducted by CQ Roll Call asking members about their religious backgrounds. The publication of the Pew report came just one day after the 117th Congress was sworn into session on Jan. 3. Pew has been analyzing the religious composition of members of Congress since the 111th Congress, which met from 2009 to 2011….Four hundred and sixty-eight (88%) of members of the 117th Congress are Christian, compared to 65% of the American public as a whole. A majority of the Christians on Capitol Hill identify as Protestant. While 55% of lawmakers in the 117th Congress are Protestants, just 43% of the American public identifies as such. A plurality of the Protestants in Congress describe themselves as ‘unspecified/other.’ The largest single Protestant denomination represented on Capitol Hill is Baptists, which has 66 adherents serving in the 117th Congress. Baptists on Capitol Hill make up 12.4% of the 117th Congress, compared to 15% of the American public.” read more at the Christian Post
Interestingly, 88% of Congress is Christian, while 65% of U.S. adults are Christian, according to Pew Research Center surveys. They also reveal that there has been a substantial decline in the general population of U.S. adults who identify as Christian, but only a 7-point drop in the percentage of members of Congress who identify that way. How can it be that in a Congress that is 88% Christian, the majority of congressmen and women believe it is okay to allow the legal killing of unborn babies? We know that politics is downstream from culture, which is downstream from theology. Based on this, it appears that a major root of this problem is the teaching of theology which is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings. Without a knowledge of how the Christian worldview applies to all areas of life, it is easier to be taken captive by “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition...and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) President-elect Biden identifies as Catholic, and the pastor giving the benediction at his inauguration stated, “I personally know that President Biden will seek after the heart of GOD, it has been his lifestyle over the years.” Biden has also announced his choices for his cabinet. Among them is Xavier Beccera, the Attorney General of California, who was picked to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Beccera is known for attempting to force pro-life pregnancy centers in California to refer clients for abortion. For Assistant Secretary of Health at HHS, Biden chose Rachel Levine, who would be the first openly transgender federal official. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben will be the first woman to serve as chaplain of either chamber of Congress. Kibben, an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, has previously served as the U.S. Navy’s chief chaplain and chaplain of the Marine Corps. May we pray that the new administration would heed the Word of God, not the philosophies of man.
Lord, I come before You with a humble and grateful heart as I take on the responsibility You have given me to pray for my elected officials. I ask that they seek and submit to You, Your plans and Your purposes in all they do. I pray for those who do not know the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and I pray they will come to know You. Lord, reveal Your heart to them. Please give them spiritual discernment and godly wisdom on the difficult issues they are discussing and deciding on my behalf. Help them to recognize Your authority and that rights are not granted by the government but given by You.
Now is the time to pray for the 117th Congress. Take time to pray and then send a message to your representatives, letting them know you are praying for them with our easy tool.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.
Your prayer on line for the 117th congress elicited many angry remarks from people who understood your intent to be ignoring the ungodly acts and legislative actions that are unbiblical and calling those acts successful. If you intend to encourage prayer among those people, perhaps you could explain further to the public your desire to prayer as directed biblically, while condemning sin in no uncertain terms. Not that you consider sinful legislation a success, as some thought you were saying, but that praying for those in government and for their salvation is our mandate from God.